How to Start a Farm in 2024: Detailed Steps, Costs, and Considerations

Published: January 22, 2024

A red barn on a farm with a cow in the foreground on a sunny day

If you've ever wondered how to start a farm, you're not alone. In this article, we show you an opportunity to stake your claim, embracing a life rooted in the sweat of your brow and the fertility of the land.

You are about to embark on a new farming journey, and we're here to provide substantial insights into the key pieces of starting a farming business. After all, this isn't just a hobby or passing fascination. Now, let's roll up our sleeves and get down to earth.

Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Your Farm

Learn about farming goals and why they are important for success.

Selecting the right type of farm based on your ambition and your goals

Discover how to secure land and resources vital for starting a farm.

Understand the significance of a comprehensive farm business plan and its key components.

Gain knowledge on executing your plan and tips for initiating operations effectively.

Step 1: Identifying Your Farming Business Goals

Drafting clear goals is important before venturing into any business ; farming is no exception. Goals serve as your GPS, guiding your actions and decisions from inception to operation and beyond. For instance, you may aim to start a crop farm to provide organic produce for the local market.

Alternatively, you may dream of starting an animal farm, focusing on dairy or meat production. Regardless of your chosen direction, an articulated path clears ambiguities and enhances focus.

Importance of Setting Clear Goals

Clear aims provide guidelines that shape your farming operations. Outlining SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) farming objectives provides a strategic pathway to making informed decisions. It is this specificity that allows one to select the most suitable type of farm, choose the appropriate land, and manage resources meticulously.

Examples of Farming Business Goals

For instance, if your goal is to start an off-the-grid permaculture farm, decision-making will pivot to eco-friendly operations. If the aim is to start an urban rooftop farm, the focus may be on optimizing limited space for maximum yield.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Type of Farm

Each type of agribusiness requires unique considerations, from the soil's quality and climate conditions to market potential. Data suggests that understanding your intended farm helps narrow your options and ensures that you invest wisely.

Different Types of Farms and Their Requirements

Each has unique money-making requirements , whether a crop farm, dairy farm , poultry farm, horticultural operation, or mixed farm. For instance, dairy farms demand significant attention to livestock health and handling, while a crop farming business needs precise knowledge of soil management and plant diseases.

How to Choose the Right Farm Based on Your Goals

In determining the right farm type, you should consider your personal interests and skillset, market demand, available resources, and farming location. Doing this aligns your venture with your core objectives, making progression smoother and more fulfilling.

Step 3: Developing a Farm Business Plan

A well-crafted farm business plan is important for securing funding from lenders or investors and serves as your farming business blueprint.

Importance of a Business Plan

A business plan outlines the specifics of your farm operations, the marketing tactics, financial projections, and resource management strategies. It allows you to anticipate possible challenges and plan for them in advance.

Key Elements of a Farm Business Plan

Essential components of the plan should include an executive summary, your farming business goals, method of operations, marketing strategies, financial forecasts, and risk management plans.

Step 4: Securing Land and Resources

Once you've defined your farming business goals and the most suitable type of agribusiness, the next step is securing land and requisite resources. According to the USDA's , you'll need to consider factors like creating a plan, assessing the land, find funding, among other steps, before selecting the right farmland for your venture.

How to Find and Purchase Suitable Land

Identifying the right land entails comprehensive research to ensure it meets your farming requirements. We recommend hiring an expert to perform soil tests and environmental assessments before finalizing a purchase.

Necessary Resources for Starting a Farm

Apart from land, other resources are crucial for a farm: capital, farming equipment, seeds or animals, and labor. Having a checklist of everything you need to have a successful farming operation and calculate comprehensive startup costs is important.

Step 5: Implementing Your Plan and Starting Operations

Having a successful farm business isn't just about planning. The next phase is implementation.

Steps to Implement Your Business Plan

These steps range from acquiring the necessary permits and purchasing resources listed in the plan to hiring employees and initiating operations. It's important to revisit and adjust the plan regularly as circumstances change.

Tips for Starting Operations Smoothly

Successful operation commencement hinges on planning. Develop an operation checklist, delegate responsibilities to your team, and ensure all necessary regulations are adhered to for a smooth start. A great emphasis should always be put on quality assurance.

Incorporating these steps provides a roadmap for avoiding common pitfalls and moving toward a successful venture when starting a farm. As always, make sure you conduct market research before starting your venture.

The table below shows the issuing agency for permits based on the business activity you plan on pursuing (source: )

Business activity


Issuing agency


If you import or transport animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology or plants across state line.

Alcoholic beverages

If you manufacture, wholesale, import, or sell alcoholic beverages at a retail location.

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board


If your business involves operating aircraft, transporting goods or people via air, or aircraft maintenance.

Firearms, ammunition, and explosives

If your business manufactures, deals, or imports firearms, ammunitions, and explosives.

Fish and wildlife

If your business engages in any wildlife related activity, including the import or export of wildlife and derivative products.

Commercial fisheries

If your business engages in commercial fishing of any kind.

Maritime transportation

If you provide ocean transportation or facilitate the shipment of cargo by sea.

Mining and drilling

If your business is involved in drilling for natural gas, oil, or other mineral resources on federal lands.

Nuclear energy

If your business produces commercial nuclear energy, is a fuel cycle facility, or is involved in distribution and disposal of nuclear materials.

Radio and television broadcasting

If your business broadcasts information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable.

Transportation and logistics

If your business operates an oversize or overweight vehicle. Permits for oversize and overweight vehicles are issued by your state government, but the U.S. Department of Transportation can direct you to the correct state office.

Next, gain a clear understanding of the costs associated with starting a farm.

Understanding the Costs of Starting a Farm

Get a clear picture of the initial and ongoing operational costs of the farming business

Learn strategies to manage these costs effectively

Initial Investment Costs

You can start a small farm for as little as $600 to over $10,000 because it depends on various decisions and factors like the type of equipment and whether you're hiring people to help. Before dipping your toes into the farming industry, it's crucial to comprehend the initial investment costs. The foundational pillars involve expenses related to land acquisition, purchasing necessary farming equipment, and introducing the desired crops or livestock to your property.

You can also see if you qualify for loan programs if you're a beginner farmer.

An infographic with details on the loans available to new farmers

The land cost can vary dramatically based on the location, fertility, and size. Typically, more fertile land boasting a good location tags a steeper price. Important to note – the calculation must also include the cost of relevant insurance coverage (liability, property and crop insurance etc.).

Farming equipment follows next. Tractors, planters, plows, and irrigation systems have substantial price tags. Acquiring livestock requires immediate financial attention if you're planning on animal farming.

Less apparent costs include seed, buildings, and site improvements like fencing or driveways. Now the question becomes, how do you manage these initial costs?

One common approach is to start small and scale over time. At first, consider leasing the land or buying used equipment. Government grants and loans to support farmers can also help ease the financial burden.

Remember, it's not about cutting corners but smart investing and growing steadily.

Ongoing Operational Costs

Even after overcoming the hurdle of initial costs, farms have ongoing operational expenses that need frequent attention. These costs mostly include maintenance of your equipment, seeds for new crops, animal feed, irrigation, and labor costs.

It might surprise you, but labor, including salaries, benefits, and insurance for your employees, often represents one of the highest ongoing costs you'll face. Regular maintenance to keep your machinery in optimal condition and replacing worn-out parts are necessary.

Alongside, insurance can become a hefty annual expense. You will need to include it as a necessary expenditure that safeguards you against major losses.

As we get into the rhythm of regular farm operation, let's dive into strategies for a cost-effective farming business. Streamlined operational practices are the name of the game here.

Precision farming – using technology and data to optimize yields and efficiency – is one way to get more for your money. Properly maintaining your equipment can reduce the frequency and cost of breakdowns. Choosing the right crop or livestock based on markets and your particular farm's strengths could also lead to better profitability.

Effective cost management in farming isn't about cost-cutting; it's about value-maximizing, ensuring every dollar spent returns the best yield or benefit possible. As with most business ventures, this might involve a steep learning curve and plenty of trial-and-error, but with persistence and careful planning, a sustainable and financially stable farm is well within reach.

To help you get started, here is a list of items to consider when starting a farm.

Equipment, Machinery & Tools :

General farming tools and equipment

Primary farm housing structures

Fencing materials

Storage facilities

Harvesting equipment

Fuel for machinery

Greenhouse structure

Irrigation system

Cooling equipment

Packaging material if you're selling on farmers markets

Crop Preparation :

Soil and Fertilizers

Crop protection materials

Pest control supplies

Raising Livestock (if applicable)

Cost per animal type ( cows , chickens , horses) multiplied by the number of animals

Preventative care costs

Additional :

Marketing budget (if applicable)

Utilities (water, electricity)

Transportation (for products)

Labor (if not self-operated)

Training and Education for yourself or your staff

Legal and regulatory compliance fees

Emergency fund

Overcoming Challenges in Starting a Farming Business

Anticipate and prepare for financial obstacles common among new farmers.

Understand and navigate the maze of regulatory requirements.

Tackle environmental and climate-related risks with sustainable, resilient farming strategies.

Dealing with Financial Challenges

Many aspiring farmers often encounter a series of financial obstacles before they can even plant their first seed. It's important to familiarize yourself with these challenges and employ strategic financial management resources. A little extra research can turn up additional financial assistance just when you need it.

Common financial hurdles for new farmers

Capital investment is a critical component of starting a farm, including the procurement of land, essential farming equipment, and seeds. Additional costs include labor, packaging, transportation, marketing, and, potentially, organic certification fees. These costs can be daunting, especially for those without deep pockets or a rich agricultural heritage.

Resources and strategies for financial management

However, confronting these financial challenges requires a strategic approach. Creating a detailed, realistic financial plan is indispensable. Be sure to understand your break-even point and buffer any unexpected expenses. Crowdfunding and agricultural grants can also supplement initial capital needs.

Navigating Regulatory Requirements

Starting a farm business isn't just about tilling the land and harvesting crops. It is also about compliance with farming regulations protecting the farmer and consumer. It can feel overwhelming, but understanding these requirements can help prevent hefty penalties and maintain a farm's success.

Overview of farming business regulations

From business licenses, zoning, and water rights to safety inspections, various governmental bodies regulate different aspects of farming. These regulations can vary by geography, crop type, and farming practices. Checking with local, state, and national bodies for applicable regulations is important.

Tips for compliance and avoiding penalties

Ensuring compliance with these regulations requires comprehensive record-keeping, regular audits, and proactively keeping updated on law changes. When in doubt, get legal help to guide you through the maze of regulations.

Managing Environmental and Climate Risks

Climate change presents unique challenges to a farming business. A sustainable and resilient approach is essential for prolonged success.

Impact of climate change on farming business

Climate change can affect farming by altering rainfall patterns, inducing higher temperatures, and increasing the frequency of extreme weather events. All these factors create uncertain conditions for crop growth and livestock health, fundamentally affecting farming viability.

Strategies for sustainable and resilient farming

Successful adaptation to climate change necessitates strategic planning. Diversify your crops , use water-saving techniques, and employ climate-smart agricultural practices. Use data to understand potential climate risks, anticipate changes, and make informed decisions. Resilience is built one day at a time; it is a marathon, not a sprint. Being adaptable is key in navigating this challenge.

Overcoming challenges in starting a farm requires diligence and adaptability. But with careful planning and proactive management, you'll conquer these hurdles and ensure a thriving farm operation.

Essential Resources for New Farmers

Navigate red tape with government and nonprofit programs

Forge valuable connections within farming communities and local markets

Harness the power of the digital world with online tools specifically catered to farmers

Government and Nonprofit Programs for Beginning Farmers

Long-standing government support and fresh initiatives from nonprofit organizations provide a tailwind for those starting a farming journey. These entities offer many resources, including loans, grants, and educational programs. Brand new farmers, in particular, are incentivized towards benefits that can ease their entry into the industry.

Overview of Available Programs

A wide spectrum of programs is available, from seed funding to extensive land conservation efforts. Several departments under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), such as the Farm Service Agency and Conservation Service, offer schemes targeting budding farmers. Simultaneously, nonprofit organizations like the National Young Farmers Coalition provide the necessary advocacy and direct assistance. A thorough exploration of both can yield lucrative opportunities for new farmers.

How to Apply and Make the Most of These Resources

Applying for these programs typically involves an online application process, documentation, and patience. Detailed guidelines provided by the issuing authority ensure a smooth process. Most importantly, don’t view these resources merely as financial aid. Instead, consider them an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the industry, network with veterans, and potentially shape local farming policies.

Farming Communities and Networks

Even with modern technology, farming remains a community-centric practice. Networking within these communities can be a game-changer for those new to the field, providing rich insights from generations of farming.

Importance of Community Supported Agriculture

Farming isn't just about tilling soil and growing crops. It involves intricate knowledge about local ecosystems, market demand, and financial management. All of which can be readily provided by a robust farming community. These communities can potentially speed up your learning, mitigate common beginner's mistakes, and even offer emotional support during tough times.

How to Connect with Other Farmers and Learn from Their Experiences

Consider attending local farming exhibitions and workshops or joining farming cooperatives to meet experienced farmers. Even during family gatherings, farmers markets offer a convenient place to meet several farmers in the same area. Social media platforms also offer virtual farming communities where you can easily connect with and learn from farmers worldwide.

Online Resources and Tools

The digital revolution hasn't bypassed farming. Several online resources and applications are available to help farmers stay updated, forecast weather conditions, manage their farms, and interact with a global community.

Useful Websites, Apps, and Tools for New Farmers

Online services such as Ranchr offer a much-needed cattle management service for farmers. Using these resources optimally can keep you at the forefront of industry advancements, helping streamline farm management and supporting critical financial decision-making.

How These Resources Help in Starting and Managing a Farm

These digital tools offer multifaceted benefits. Beyond the logistics of farming, they enhance your understanding of market trends, equip you with skills to analyze data for better decision-making, and connect you with an extensive network of farmers. Coupling these digital resources with insights from local farming communities can provide an optimal blend of traditional knowledge and modern efficiency. But remember, nothing beats connecting with your fellow farmer face to face. Don't hesitate to pick up the phone.

Planting the Seeds for Your Future

Venturing into farming this year could signify a step towards sustainability and entrepreneurship. It involves careful planning, budgeting, and navigating the potential challenges of crop failure, pests, and changing market conditions.

The value of this endeavor lies in improving food security, growing a sustainable business, fostering a deeper connection with nature, and offering value to your community.

Now, armed with this roadmap, your journey begins. Consider your starting capital, scout locations, select your crops, and engage with local farming communities for mentorship.

We hope these steps and strategies have illustrated and given you inspiration on how to start a farm.

Remember, the earth beneath us is teeming with possibilities - it's time to dig in and cultivate your own!

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Farm Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky Farm Business Plan Template

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 3,500 farmers create business plans to start and grow their farm businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through a farm business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Farm Business Plan Template here >

What is a Farm Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your farm business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan for a Farm

If you’re looking to start a farm business or grow your existing farm business you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your farm business in order to improve your chances of success. Your farm business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes. It can be used to create a vegetable farm business plan, or a dairy farm, produce farm, fruit farm, agriculture farm and more.

Source of Funding for Farm Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for a farm business are personal savings, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable. But they will want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business.

The second most common form of funding for a farm business is angel investors. Angel investors are wealthy individuals who will write you a check. They will either take equity in return for their funding, or, like a bank, they will give you a loan.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

Your business plan should include 10 sections as follows:

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of farm business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have a farm business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of farm businesses.

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the farm business industry. Discuss the type of farm business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of farm business you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types among others:

  • Vegetable Farm : this type of farm grows a wide variety of vegetables (but not grains or soybeans) and melons in open fields and in greenhouses.
  • Dairy Farm : this type of farm primarily raises cattle for milk. Typically, this type of farm does not process the milk into cheeses or butter, etc.
  • Fruit Farm : this type of farm primarily grows fruits.
  • Hay and Crop Farm : More than half of these types of farms grow hay, while a small number grow sugar beets. A variety of other crops, such as hops and herbs, are included in the industry. Some operators also gather agave, spices, tea and maple sap.
  • Industrial Hemp Farm : this type of farm grows and harvests cannabis plants with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 0.3% by weight.
  • Plant & Flower Farm : this type of farm grows nursery plants, such as trees and shrubs; flowering plants, such as foliage plants, cut flowers, flower seeds and ornamentals; and short rotation woody trees, such as Christmas trees and cottonwoods.
  • Vertical Farming : This type of farm involves growing crops in vertically stacked layers, often using controlled environment agriculture (CEA) technologies. This method dramatically reduces the amount of land space needed for farming and can increase crop yields.

In addition to explaining the type of farm business you operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include sales goals you’ve reached, acquisition of additional acreage, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the farm business.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the farm business industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating. 

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy particularly if your research identifies market trends. For example, if there was a trend towards decaffeinated farm business consumption, it would be helpful to ensure your plan calls for plenty of decaffeinated options.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your farm business plan:

  • How big is the farm business (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your farm business. You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your farm business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: food manufacturers, grocery wholesalers, retail grocers, restaurants, individual consumers, etc.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of farm business you operate. Clearly food manufacturers would want different pricing and product options, and would respond to different marketing promotions than retail grocers.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

Finish Your Farm Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Farm Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other farm businesses.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes processed foods, imported goods, and growing produce themselves. You need to mention such competition to show you understand the true nature of the market.

With regards to direct competition, you want to detail the other farm businesses with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be farm businesses located very close to your location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • What products do they offer?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide superior products?
  • Will you provide products that your competitors don’t offer?
  • Will you make it easier or faster for customers to acquire your products?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a farm business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : in the product section you should reiterate the type of farm business that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to wholesale crops, will you also offer subscriptions to individuals?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the products you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location of your farm. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your farm centrally located near gourmet restaurants and specialty grocers, etc. Discuss how your location might provide a steady stream of customers. Also, if you operate or plan to operate farm stands, detail the locations where the stands will be placed.

Promotions : the final part of your farm business marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Making your farm stand extra appealing to attract passing customers
  • Distributing produce samples from the farm stand or at farmers markets 
  • Advertising in local papers and magazines
  • Reaching out to local bloggers and websites 
  • Local radio advertising
  • Banner ads at local venues

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your farm business such as serving customers, delivering produce, harvesting, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to serve your 1,000th customer, or when you hope to reach $X in sales. It could also be when you expect to hire your Xth employee or acquire more arable land.

Management Team

To demonstrate your farm business’s ability to succeed as a business, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in farming. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in farming and/or successfully running small businesses.

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you serve 100 customers per week or 200? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets : While balance sheets include much information, to simplify them to the key items you need to know about, balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. For instance, if you spend $100,000 on building out your farm, that will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $100.000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement : Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. For example, let’s say a company approached you with a massive $100,000 supplier contract, that would cost you $50,000 to fulfill. Well, in most cases, you would have to pay that $50,000 now for seed, equipment, employee salaries, etc. But let’s say the company didn’t pay you for 180 days. During that 180 day period, you could run out of money.

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a farm business:

  • Location build-out including barn construction, land preparation, etc.
  • Cost of equipment like tractors and attachments, silos, barns, etc.
  • Cost of nutrients and maintaining machinery
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

Your new farm’s business plan must include a detailed financial plan based on reasonable assumptions of your costs and revenues. To determine if the results you show in this plan will be attractive to investors, look at industry standard financial metrics to see how you measure up against the farming industry, or your sector of the industry, on average. These are some basic measures and ratios to study.

Value of Production

The value of production is equal to your farm’s cash receipts plus the changes in value of product inventory and accounts receivable, less your livestock purchases. This is a measure of the value of the commodities you have produced in the period.

Net Farm Income

The NFI or net farm income, represents the value of production less direct and capital costs in the time period. This is a dollar figure, and not a ratio relating the income to the investment made, so it cannot be used to compare the farm against other farms.

Gross Margin

This represents the NFI less depreciation. The gross margin shows how much money is available in the year to cover the unallocated fixed costs, and dividends to owners and unpaid operators.

Return on Farm Assets

This is a ratio that can be used to compare the farm with others. This is calculated as NFI plus interest expense less unpaid operator labor, all divided by the total assets of the farm.

Asset Turnover Ratio

This ratio is equal to the value or production over the total farm assets. Combined with the operating profit margin ratio, this shows the efficiency of the farm in generating revenues.

Operating Profit Margin Ratio

This ratio is similar to Return on Farm Assets, but divides the same numerator (NFI plus interest expense less unpaid operator labor) by the value of production figure. This shows the percentage of each revenue dollar that becomes profit. If it is low, a higher turnover can compensate, and if it is high, a lower turnover ratio is required.

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your store design blueprint or location lease.

Farm Business Plan Summary

Putting together a business plan for your farm business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. It can be used for a small farm business plan template or any other type of farm. You will really understand the farm business, your competition and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful farm business.

Download Our Farm Business Plan PDF

You can download our farm business plan PDF here . This is a small farm business plan example you can use in PDF format.  

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your Farm business plan?

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Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.  

Click here to see how Growthink’s professional business plan consulting services can create your business plan for you.

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Small Business Trends

How to create a farm business plan.

new farm business plan

It’s something you nurture, revise, and expand as circumstances dictate and as your farm business matures. Feeling pressure to perfect your business plan from the outset could be paralyzing. Instead, we suggest you view this document as a foundation that can be continuously built upon.

Therefore, your farm business plan should not only anticipate these challenges but also prescribe adaptive measures to navigate through them. It’s this inherent adaptability that transforms a good farm business plan into a great one.

Writing a Farm Business Plan Template: 15+ Things Entrepreneurs Should Include

Creating a robust business plan is of paramount importance, whether you’re kickstarting a farm venture or acquiring an existing one. Our farm business plan template starts off with an executive summary.

Executive Summary

Goals and objectives, introduction, mission statement and values of your farming business plan.

This section enables you to express the core values that led you to the farming business, whether it’s an urban farming venture or a homemade product-based farm. Your mission statement should reflect these values. Sustainable practices and conservation are often key motivations that draw people to farming, so don’t be shy to share your commitment to such principles.

Industry History

Company background and history, competitor analysis, target market.

Clearly define your target market. This can include area groceries, farmers’ markets, or online customers. If you’ll be relying on online sales, ensure your website is professionally designed, keyword optimized, and easily discoverable.

Products and Services

Organization, human resources, and management plans, swot analysis, growth strategy.

A comprehensive growth strategy should outline your plans for debt reduction, savings, and business expansion. Keeping detailed farm production records is key to evaluating the effectiveness of your growth strategy.

Financial Plan

Marketing strategy, establishing a farming business entity, detailed description of farm operations, risk management strategies.

Address potential risks and challenges your farm might face, such as natural disasters, market fluctuations, or pest infestations. Discuss the strategies you plan to implement to mitigate these risks, like insurance coverage, diversification, and emergency response plans.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Community involvement and social responsibility, supply chain and vendor relationships, technology and innovation.

Discuss the role of technology and innovation in your farm business. This could include the use of precision agriculture, innovative irrigation systems, or the adoption of farm management software to enhance efficiency and productivity.

Training and Development Plans

Expansion and diversification, exit strategy.

Wrap up your business plan with a conclusion that reiterates your farm’s core mission and vision, and express your enthusiasm and commitment to making your farm business a success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a Business Plan for My Farm?

One of the many advantages of constructing your business plan is the opportunity it affords to involve others. Employees, family members, even your loyal farm dog might have innovative small farm business ideas that could significantly enhance your farm’s productivity and marketability. A different perspective can often yield solutions for issues you might not have even been aware of. Therefore, encourage an open exchange of thoughts and ideas. Who knows, the next great idea could be lying right under your hay bale!

How Do I Write a Small Farm Business Plan?

Don’t sit down to write the whole thing. Chip away, one section at a time. Keep in mind that the plan doesn’t have to be the definitive last word. You can make adaptations.

How do you start a farm business plan?

How much do farm owners make a year, how much does it cost to start a small farm, what is the most profitable farming business.

Poultry farming is currently the most profitable – and common – farm business in the world. It includes chicken, turkey, quail, ducks and goose, that are being raised for meat or eggs.

Details of a Small Farm Business Plan

  • Swarthmore College

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  • Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Brandeis University
  • Northeastern University
  • Urban Farms
  • Planting Guides
  • Indoor Gardening

Writing a farm business plan can be a tool for you to plan your farming business. It can also be a requirement of securing grants and loans for your farm business. The process of writing a farm business plan may seem overwhelming and intimidating at first, but if you break it down into its component steps, it becomes much more manageable.

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a roadmap for your small farm . It is both process and product. During the writing of a farm business plan, you'll develop an overall vision and mission for your business. You will think about your short- and long-term goals. You'll define the steps needed to achieve those goals. You'll set the direction for your business to develop over the next five years.

If you're already an established business, your new business plan will show where you're going next. A good business plan should be:

Mission Statement

Your farm’s mission statement is your overarching purpose for your business:

  • Why does your farm exist?
  • What purpose does your farm serve?
  • Where is your farm headed?

This is beyond “make money.” This mission statement is based on your values and your core identity as a small farm.

The goals in your business plan are the specific, measurable “things” you will achieve with your small farm. Short-term goals are defined as those that you will complete within one year. Long-term goals are those that take longer than one year to complete.

SMART Goals are:

  • Rewarding, and have a

Background Information

In this section of your business plan, take inventory of what you have right now:

  • Where are you located?
  • How many acres of land are you farming?
  • When did you begin farming?
  • How are you currently operating?
  • What general practices do you use for such things as conservation, tillage, environmental impact, and marketing?

Farm Strategy

This is where your business plan gets to looking forward. You are going to formulate your farm strategy from now into the next five years or so.

  • Gather information and research markets. Make sure that your farm plan fits into the general market in terms of supply and demand. Investigate and analyze industry trends, identify competitors, and define buyers.
  • SWOT Analysis. This is an analytical tool that can be used in making decisions. SWOT stands for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. As a business, analyze your internal strengths and weaknesses. Then look externally at what opportunities and threats exist - competitors, new markets, government regulations, economic conditions, and so forth.
  • Create alternative strategies. Looking at the information you've gleaned and the analysis you just did, think through options for your farm strategy. Don't rely on price alone; economies of scale are challenging on the small farm level.
  • Don't jump to one conclusion immediately. Really spend some time fleshing out the specifics of some of the strategies and looking at their advantages and disadvantages. Try to find options that combine your internal strengths with opportunities in the external environment.
  • Look at all your strategies, then reread your mission statement. The ideal farm plan will fit your mission best.
  • Write an implementation plan. This is where you write a plan that will make your new strategy happen.

Marketing Strategy and Plan

In the next part of your farm business plan, you develop and outline a marketing strategy for your products and services. This can build on the research you did in the previous step. For each product, include ​the price, placement, and promotion ideas. Consider how you will convey real and perceived value to your customers.

Management Summary

This part of your business plan details your farm business’ structure. Everyone who is involved in the management of the business should be listed here. External resources are listed here as well.

Financial Analysis

In this section, you will need to detail the financial aspect of your farming operation. List your current finances in detail, including all income and operating expenses. Referring to your new strategy, you will forecast what is needed for future growth and to meet the goals you have outlined in terms of capital. Include what your future operating expenses will be.

Pulling It All Together

Writing a farm business plan is a big project. Don’t let that put you off. Your plan can be as simple as it needs to be for right now. Begin with your mission statement and goals. Do your homework by analyzing markets and researching competitors and trends. Have fun brainstorming alternative strategies and let them marinate a while. Take it one step at a time.

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Free Agriculture Sample Business Plan PDF + How to Write

Author: Elon Glucklich

Elon Glucklich

6 min. read

Updated February 7, 2024

Free Download:  Agriculture Business Plan Template

As a farmer, you’re in the business of putting food on the table. Agriculture is one of the world’s oldest professions.

Today it accounts for over 5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, and 1 in 10 American workers are in agriculture, food, and related industries.

But starting a new agriculture business requires intensive planning and upfront preparation. If you’re looking for a free, downloadable agriculture sample business plan PDF to help you create a business plan of your own, look no further.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to find a sample business plan that exactly matches your farm. Whether you’re launching a larger agricultural business outside a bustling city or a smaller organic operation, the details will be different, but the foundation of the plan will be the same. 

Are you writing a business plan for your farm because you’re seeking a loan? Is your primary concern outlining a clear path for sales growth? Either way, you’re going to want to edit and customize it so it fits your particular farm. 

No two agriculture farming businesses are alike.

For example, your strategy will be very different if you’re a dairy operation instead of a soybean farm. So take the time to create your own financial forecasts and do enough market research for your specific type of agriculture so you have a solid plan for success. 

  • What should you include in an agriculture farm business plan?

Your agriculture business plan doesn’t need to be hundreds of pages—keep it as short and focused as you can. You’ll probably want to include each of these sections: 

1. Executive summary

An overview of your agriculture business, with a brief description of your products or services, your legal structure, and a snapshot of your future plans. While it’s the first part of the plan, it’s often easier to write your executive summary last.

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2. Business summary and funding needs

Details about your farming operation, including how much capital you will need and the types of funding you’re considering. Include your business history, your current state, and your future projections. It should also cover your business location, the equipment and facilities needed, and the kinds of crops or livestock you plan to raise.

3. Products and services

Provide details on the types of crops, farming methods, and any value-added products you plan to offer, such as finished goods or even  agritourism offerings .

4. Marketing plan

Compile your market research findings, including the demand for your products or services, your target customers , and your competitors. It should also outline your marketing strategy—how you plan to attract and retain customers. 

5. Financial plan

Your revenue projections, cost estimates, and break-even analysis. Your financial plan and forecasts should demonstrate that your business has a path to profitability.

  • Building on your farm business plan sample

With a free agriculture business plan template as your starting point, you can start chipping away at the unique elements of your business plan.

As the business owner, only you can speak to aspects of your agriculture operation like your mission and core values.

You’re putting in the long hours to start a thriving farm business, so aspects of your mission – like a commitment to sustainable farming practices – will be best explained in your own words. Authenticity will help you connect with a growing market of consumers who value transparency and environmental stewardship in their food sources.

As for more conventional aspects of business planning , you will want to take on things like your marketing and financial plans one at a time. Here are a few specific areas to focus on when writing your business plan.

Invest time in market research

Starting an agriculture operation requires significant startup costs. When you throw in the unique land use considerations involved, it’s crucial to conduct thorough market research before investing hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars into a farm business.

Start by researching the types of farms operating in your locality and wider region, and the specific crops or livestock they specialize in. You will need to understand seasonal trends, including crop yields and livestock productivity.

Note the demographics of the local community to understand their buying habits and preference for local produce. Also, be aware of the competitive landscape and how your farm can differentiate itself from others. All of this information will inform your service, pricing, marketing, and partnership strategy.

From there, you can outline how you plan to reach your target market and promote your farm’s offerings.

Craft your agriculture go-to-market strategy

One of the things that makes an agriculture farm business plan different from some service-based business plans is that you might decide to work only with one or two businesses that purchase your goods.  

You may offer different tiers of products to different types of buyers, such as produce for an organic farmers market, and corn for another farm’s animal feed. If that’s the case, make sure you include ideas like setting aside land for organic growth and maintenance.

Discuss your advertising and promotional strategies, emphasizing channels relevant to your target market. Also, consider how partnerships with local businesses, farmers’ markets, and other industry stakeholders can enhance your visibility.

Include your pricing strategy and any special promotions or loyalty programs. Also, consider public relations and media outreach efforts that can raise awareness about your farm and its sustainable practices.

Prepare for unique farming challenges

Running an agricultural business comes with its own set of challenges, including weather-related disruptions and market volatility. Your business plan should identify these potential risks and present contingency plans to address them.

Include a plan to mitigate weather-related risks, such as crop diversification, employing weather-resistant farming practices, investing in appropriate infrastructure like greenhouses or drainage systems, or taking out insurance to cover weather-related losses.

Detail the operational aspects of your business , including land ownership, employee status, farm maintenance, and safety requirements. Also, illustrate your strategies for managing crop production, livestock care, land stewardship, and regulatory compliance.

Plan for the future

Contingency planning is important in all businesses.

But the unique challenges in agriculture of changing market dynamics, regulatory changes, and climate impacts make it especially necessary to plan for the future. Detail how you’ll measure success, and how you will be prepared to adapt your offerings if you need to change the focus of the business due to factors outside your control.

Also, be ready to discuss opportunities for scaling your business over time, such as introducing new crops, expanding farm operations, or opening additional locations.

  • Get started with your farm business plan sample

There are obviously plenty of reasons farm owners can benefit from writing a business plan — for example, you’ll need one if you’re seeking a loan or investment. Even if you’re not seeking funding, the process of thinking through every aspect of your business will help you make sure you’re not overlooking anything critical as you grow.

Download this  agriculture farm sample business plan PDF  for free right now, or visit  Bplans’ gallery of more than 550 sample business plans  if you’re looking for more options.

Content Author: Elon Glucklich

Elon is a marketing specialist at Palo Alto Software, working with consultants, accountants, business instructors and others who use LivePlan at scale. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Oregon.

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How to Start a Farm: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

New to farming? Want to learn how to start a farm? USDA offers dedicated help to beginning farmers and ranchers. USDA considers anyone who has operated a farm or ranch for less than ten years to be a beginning farmer or rancher.

USDA can help you get started or grow your operation through a variety of programs and services, from farm loans to crop insurance, and conservation programs to disaster assistance.

On This Page

How to start a farm operation.

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Plan Your Farm Operation

1. Start here! Think about your operation from the ground up and start planning for your business.

Plan your farm

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2. Get in touch with your local Service Center to find programs to support your operation.

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Fund Your Farm Operation

3. USDA has spent decades helping new producers find land and money for their businesses.

Fund your farm

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4. Lean on USDA to help you build your operation with sound business and financial knowledge.

Build your Business

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Sell Your Farm Products

5. Explore everything about producing, marketing and actually selling your final product.

Sell your products

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Maintain Your Farm

6. Take care of your farm operation, and it will take care of you. USDA can help.

Maintain your farm

USDA Support for Beginning Farmers

From farm loans to crop insurance, and conservation programs to disaster assistance, USDA is here to support you and your operation.

Underlined Header Farmer Coordinators

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinators are USDA team members in each state that can help you understand the USDA process and find the right assistance as you are starting out. Reach out to your state's coordinator for one-on-one technical assistance and guidance. They can also connect you with organizations that specifically serve beginning farmers and ranchers.

View Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinators

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Your local USDA Service Center has staff who can meet with you one-on-one to help you identify USDA programs that meet the needs of your operation, including farm loans and conservation assistance. Service center staff can guide you through the process of preparing and submitting required paperwork, with no need to hire a paid preparer. 

If you need information in a language other than English, we offer free translation services .

Find Your Local USDA Service Center

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After you've registered your farm and set up an individual customer record with your local USDA Service Center, you can sign up for a secure account to access a number of self-service features. For example, you can:

  • View loan information, history, and payments.
  • Get help requesting financial assistance.
  • View, upload, download and e-sign conservation documents.
  • Request conservation assistance.
  • View, print and export detailed farm records and farm/tract maps.

Learn More About Accounts

Tools for Farmers

Learn about conservation issues and build a list of concerns to discuss with a local USDA conservation specialist.

Learn about USDA disaster assistance programs that might be right for you by completing five simple steps.

Learn about the farm loans that might be right for you, check your eligibility, and get instructional help with the application forms.

Get Involved

In addition to our farm programs, there are many leadership opportunities for beginning farmers to contribute their voices and experience. Through USDA, you can take advantage of several key opportunities like committee elections, research and promotion programs, and federal advisory committees. 

Connect With Your Agricultural Community

Additional Resources

  • Blog: Beginning Farmers
  • Fact Sheet for Beginning Farmers
  • Have a Question? AskUSDA
  • Get Started! A Guide to USDA Resources for Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers
  • USDA Small and Mid-sized Farmer Resources
  • USDA CARES Partner Portal – Resources for underserved farmers, ranchers, and landowners and partners who work with them

Beginning Farmers Blog Posts

Ask the expert: beginning farmer and rancher q&a with lindsey abentroth, fridays on the farm: from veteran to beginning farmer, dashboard pilot: a gateway into farmer-focused data and information, usda’s support for beginning farmers and ranchers, ask the expert: new to farming because of the pandemic q&a with anne stephens, ask the expert: veterans transitioning to production agriculture q&a with chris groskreutz, ask the expert: beginning farmer and rancher q&a with sarah campbell, new feature enables usda customers to manage farm loans online, find your local service center.

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit

Learn more about our Urban Service Centers . Visit the Risk Management Agency website to find a regional or compliance office  or to find an insurance agent near you.

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Farm Business Plans

Written by Dave Lavinsky

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Cultivate your agricultural ambitions with our comprehensive collection of farm sector business plan examples. Perfect for farmers, agripreneurs, and agronomists, this resource provides information, from small-scale organic operations to expansive agribusiness ventures. Navigate the complexities of the agricultural industry with these detailed plans, designed to help you grow a thriving, resilient, and profitable farming enterprise.

Farm Business Plan Templates

Agricultural Business Plan Template

Aquaponics Business Plan Template

Cattle Farming Business Plan Template

Dairy Farm Business Plan Template

Farm Business Plan Template

Fish Farm Business Plan Template

Goat Farming Business Plan Template

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Hydroponics Business Plan Template

Livestock Farm Business Plan Template

Microgreens Business Plan Template

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Poultry Farm Business Plan Template

Solar Farm Business Plan Template

Tree Farm Business Plan Template

Worm Farm Business Plan Template

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Resources for Your Growing Business

How to start a farm: grow your farming business from the ground up.

How to Start a Farm: Grow Your Farming Business from the Ground Up

Why Found a Farm?

How much do farmers make, where should you establish a farm, different types of farm businesses for different types of farmers, 8 steps to starting a farm from the ground up, get started on your farm.

Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the world. Aside from producing nutritious food, farms are sources of other products we use and consume daily. Farms also provide places to go for leisure or entertainment.

The structure of the agricultural world has really shifted in the past century. These days, it has become more popular to found a farm business even if you were not born into a farming family. 

Here, we are going to discuss how to start a successful farm. We will also cover some important information regarding types of farms, how much farmers make and more.

Grab your work boots and your pitchfork, because we’re about to jump into the world of farming.

People usually establish a farm business for the same reasons they’d start any business. Maybe they have an innovative idea that puts a new twist on an old concept. Or perhaps they see a void and they know they can fill it. Farming could be one person’s lifelong dream. 

Some small farms are born of a deep desire to connect with the land. From an environmental ethics standpoint, some people feel that starting a farm gives them a way to contribute to the protection of biodiversity. There’s really no right or wrong reason to want to start a farm business.

new farm business plan

The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) broke down the net cash farm income forecast in the U.S. for 2020. Its reports suggest that a farm in the livestock industry is slated to net between $5,900 and $347,000, whereas a cash crop farm can expect to net between $68,500 and $192,500.

Clearly, there is a wide range of possible net incomes for a farm business. How much you make as a farmer will depend on the types of crops you grow or products you provide, the area you live in and a variety of other factors.

Since many crops are seasonal and many animals only breed at certain times of the year, farmers have to be strategic with their offerings if they are looking to maximize their profit.

Where you start your small farm will depend on what you want to produce. To learn about ideal crops for various locations and climates, visit the USDA website or compare crop production maps online.

When it comes to plants, where you live will play a major role in the types of crops you can grow on a small farm. Some fruits and vegetables are suited for temperate climates while others are suited for hot and dry climates. 

If you’re raising animals, it is a bit easier to choose a location since most popular livestock—like chickens, cows and pigs—can grow in a wide variety of climates. However, you’ll still want to research the ideal climate for each type of animal for your farm business. 

Are you looking to start a small farm on your existing plot in the suburbs? Or do you imagine growing a larger farm in a more rural area? Consider your short- and long-term goals when choosing the ideal location for your farm.

As you can imagine, there are many different types of farms. You can find farms large or small, and those cultivating plants, livestock or both. For simplicity, we’ve organized the most common types of farms into a few main categories. 

If you walk into the produce section of the grocery store, you’ll see dozens of different kinds of fruits and vegetables. If you go to a farmers market, you’ll likely find even more specialty items. 

This is the best way to demonstrate how many types of produce farms are possible. From cucumbers to tomatoes, squash to onions, the options are endless when you decide to start a produce farm and sell at farmers markets. 

Dairy and Livestock 

Although the dairy and livestock industry is predicted to experience a sharp decline over the next decade due to the slow cultural shift towards plant-based lifestyles, it could be the right choice for your farm business. 

These industries are still alive and well. The livestock industry is seeing new types of demands as health-conscious people are starting to lean towards meat that is hormone and antibiotic-free. 

Meat and dairy producing farms that are mindful of their animals’ welfare before they are butchered are preferred by consumers . If you feel inclined to create a meat or dairy farm business, perhaps you can find your place in this niche.

Fish farming is a unique type of farming that raises fish in either tanks or contained bodies of water. Most often, these fish are raised for food.

Since fish live in water, they absorb the toxins and chemicals that they are living in. Farming in tanks gives producers more control over the fish’s environment. It is reported that half of the fish consumed in the world is raised in fish farms.

Did you know that flower farming is one of the most profitable types of farm business?

Flowers are very seasonal and require specific growing conditions. A farmer who owns land suitable for flower farming can make up to $30,000 per acre of land every harvest.

As a flower farmer, you can do so much with your product. You could become a regional, national or even international supplier for florists. You also have the option to offer your own florist services. From there, you can specialize in delivered arrangements, weddings, funerals and more.

Specialty Farms

There are a few types of farms that are very, very specific in their offerings. Many specialty farms offer an experience to learn about farming in addition to their products. 

This may look like a small shop on the farm or a fine dining experience. It could also be farmer-led behind-the-scenes tours.

Here are a few types of specialty farms :

  • Bonsai farms
  • Cannabis farms
  • Chocolate farms (dairy farms that specialize in chocolate products)
  • Apiary (bee yard)

Many specialty farms become tourist destinations since they typically offer a niche experience that attracts customers both far and wide. 


One type of farming that is rarely talked about is energy farming. This type of farm can look a few different ways.

Some energy farms grow energy crops, and others are designed to generate wind or solar energy. Energy crops are things that are grown to replace coal and other fossil fuels. These crops are not meant to be eaten but are meant to be burned to produce energy. Some examples include corn, clover and different types of grasses.

When it comes to solar and wind farming, nothing is being grown or raised, per se. Typically, a solar farm is a large lot of land in a sunny area that is filled with solar panels. Similarly, wind farms have windmills in windy areas, typically near the ocean or on top of hills.

The purpose of energy farms is to create sustainable energy that has a net negative carbon dioxide production. 


Farms are often the setting of fond memories that last a lifetime. It could be a pumpkin patch on a small farm that your grandma took you to every fall as a child, or perhaps a pony stable you once visited on a trip.

As a farmer, you can create a small farm that brings those same lovely memories to others. Some examples of farms geared towards entertainment include: 

  • U-pick farms (strawberries, blueberries and more)
  • Petting zoos
  • Fall farms (pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides, etc.)
  • Horse stables (for horseback riding)

A few of the specialty farms we mentioned before that offer experiences could also fall into this category.

The process of starting a farm is very straightforward, but it is not something that happens overnight. This industry can be quite lucrative, but it takes months of learning how to run a small farm, planning your crops and marketing your products.

Here are eight actionable steps that will walk you through how to start farming like a pro.

1. Choose Something to Produce

As a farmer, the first step in starting a farm is deciding what you want to produce. We’ve covered quite a few types of farming, but the options don’t end there.

You can grow or raise just about any plant or animal you’d like on your small farm as long as the circumstances are right.

What you plan to produce will weigh heavily on your preferences and interests as a farmer. It is also important to point out that there are a lot of ethical questions that arise when you decide to found a small farm.

Agriculture, in general, relies greatly on the land and other creatures. If sustainability is important to you as a farmer, you’ll likely want to start leaning towards growing crops in a fashion that promotes biodiversity. 

Ultimately, you will want to consider what sort of agricultural products will provide the return on investment that you are hoping for with your small farm.

2. Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Product

There are many layers to farming, especially since there are variables that are out of small farmers’ control. 

For most types of farming, learning as you go is simply not an option. There are many ways farmers can learn. Some trade schools, colleges, and universities offer degrees and certificates in agriculture. 

A quick Google search of “grants for agricultural education” will bring up tons of programs that will actually pay you to first learn how to farm, and then plan a career in agriculture.

If the formal education route isn’t interesting to you, you can first work alongside a seasoned farmer as an apprentice or farmhand to learn about farming.

Your local 4H and other similar organizations should have resources available on how to start a small farm, as well. Choose the agricultural education option that makes the most sense for your preferences and lifestyle. 

3. Figure Out Your Finances

Like any small business, you’ll need to find the funds to get started. A small farm is a business that requires quite a bit of overhead.

You’ll need land, equipment, labor, licensing, insurance and more. There is also the option for farmers to buy a functioning farm, but that still requires quite a bit of capital to get started.

Starting a small farm is said to cost up to about $10,000 . However, starting a commercial farm can cost millions .

There are a few ways to fund a small farm. The simplest way would be buying it in cash if you can find the capital. If you don’t have a couple million dollars lying around, there are other options to make your dream a reality. You could get a commercial loan or seek out investors. You could also tap into scholarships and grants for farmers offered by local and national organizations. 

4. Purchase Your Property

So, you know what you want to produce, you’ve learned everything you need to know to get started with this type of farm and you’ve got your funding figured out in your business plan. Now it’s time to find and purchase some land.

Purchasing property for a farm is something that must be well thought out. If you will be raising livestock, you need to make sure the climate is appropriate for the type of animals you’ll be raising. 

However, finding land to plant crops opens a whole other can of worms. Plants can be very finicky. The conditions have to be just right for a successful harvest. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What type of climate is best for my crop?
  • Which regions have this type of climate?
  • Is the land fertile and rich in the appropriate nutrients?
  • How much rain does the area get? Does it flood easily?
  • If it’s dry, is it possible to irrigate the land?
  • How easy will the fields be to work in?
  • Is the land safe for all of the employees and animals (if applicable)?

There is another layer to the land selection that many farmers are starting to take into consideration: is the land classified as organic ?

You’ll want to check local legislation for the specifics of organic farming. But this is definitely something to keep in mind if you plan to take the organic route.  

new farm business plan

5. Strategize and Prepare 

How you plan to prepare the land on your small farm will depend on what you are growing, raising or producing. 

If you are growing crops, you have to ensure the fertility of your land. You may spend a few years fertilizing your land naturally with compost and manure. Alternatively, you can use chemical fertilizers. Choosing how to enrich your soil will go back to your thoughts on sustainability.

During your agricultural education for your small business, you will learn about crop rotation. If you are buying land that has been farmed for years, you will need to determine which crops to plant next. You will likely plan and strategize a few years out based on crop rotation patterns. 

Irrigation is something to take into consideration when you’re starting, as well.

If you are raising livestock, you must build the appropriate stables. Whether you’re raising livestock for meat, or for eggs, milk, wool or other byproducts will determine what sort of structure you will build.

Other details to consider are whether or not you’ll have additional animals on the farm. For example, many farmers choose to have cats on the farm since they keep rats and mice out of the feed.

In this step, you can also take a look at everything from a business perspective.

6. Implement Your Farming Business Plan

You’ve created your business plan, and now it’s time to take action. It is important to go into this journey with some flexibility. Remember to have back-up options so that you’re covered no matter what happens.

7. Develop Your Product

Even if you specialize in growing or raising one thing, you may develop several related products for your small business.

Let’s say you decided to grow beets. You could choose to sell beets by the bunch. You could also produce and sell cold-pressed beet juice, beet root powder, beet jam or any other beet-based product.

Decide on the direction you want to take and develop your product accordingly. Determine how you will package your product, how you can make it last the longest (if it is a perishable item) and figure out how you will price it.

At this stage, you will want to develop your brand, as well. This goes beyond an aesthetically pleasing logo for your business. Get started by establishing who you are as a business and what sort of value you can plan to provide for your customers.

8. Market Your Products

How you market your products will be determined by who you plan to sell them to. 

Here are a few things to consider when identifying the target audience for your business:

  • Will the product be sold as an ingredient to a manufacturer?
  • Will you be selling to stores or directly to consumers?
  • Can your customers buy the product online? 

As we mentioned before, your farm could offer an experience, so this would be “packaged” and sold differently.

There are so many ways to plan starting a farm. Every farmer’s business journey will be a bit different, and that is OK. That being said, the eight steps we’ve discussed for building a farm from the ground up are a great starting point. It’s a solid plan for farmers who are completely new to the game and want to start learning how to farm.

Now that you’re equipped with the information you need to start your farming journey, it is time to take some action. Are you ready to start farming?


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How to Write a Farming Business Plan: Template and Guide


May 22, 2023

new farm business plan

Starting and running a successful farming business requires careful planning and strategic decision-making. One essential tool that every farmer should have is a well-crafted farming business plan. A comprehensive business plan serves as a roadmap for your agricultural venture, guiding you through the various stages of development and ensuring that you stay focused on your goals. We will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to write an effective farming business plan and start you off with a template. 

Overview of a Farming Business Plan

Before diving into the specifics, let’s take a moment to understand what a farming & agriculture business plan entails. Essentially, a farm business plan is a written document that outlines your farming objectives, strategies, and financial forecasts. It serves as a blueprint for your farm’s operations, helping you make informed decisions and communicate your vision to potential investors, lenders, or partners.

The Purpose of a Farming Business Plan

The farming business plan is going to define and communicate your farm’s mission and goals. It helps provide a clear direction for your operations, resources, and ensures that everyone involved in the business is on the same page. Additionally, a well-crafted business plan is often required when seeking financing or partnerships. Lenders and investors use it to evaluate the viability and profitability of your farming venture.  

Key Elements of a Farming Business Plan

Let’s explore the elements that make up the Farming Business Plan. 

Executive Summary

The executive summary is a brief overview of your entire plan. It should summarize your farm’s mission, goals, target market, and competitive advantage. While it appears at the beginning of your plan, it is often written last to ensure that it accurately reflects the content of the document.

Market Analysis

A thorough market analysis is crucial for understanding your target market, identifying potential customers, and evaluating your competition. This section should provide detailed information about market trends, customer demographics, and demand for your products or services. Conducting market research and gathering data from reliable sources will strengthen the credibility of your analysis.

Products and Services

In this section, describe the specific products or services your new farm will offer. Provide details about their features, benefits, and how they meet the needs of your target market. Discuss any unique selling points or competitive advantages that set your offerings apart from others in the industry.

Marketing and Sales

Outline the strategies for promoting and selling farm products. Explain how you plan to promote your farm and reach your target market. Include information about your pricing strategy, distribution channels, and any partnerships or collaborations that may enhance your marketing efforts. Developing a comprehensive marketing plan will help you attract customers and generate sales. 

Describe the operational processes and workflows involved in running the farm, including land preparation, planting, harvesting, livestock care, and post-harvest handling. Highlight the management structure, key personnel, and their roles and responsibilities.

Financial Plan

The financial plans are a critical component of your farming business plan as it demonstrates the financial viability and sustainability of your farm. It should include projected income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets for the next three to five years. Additionally, outline your funding requirements and any existing or potential sources of financing. 

American Farm Financing offers many financing options to fit your needs: operating loans, cash rent loans, farm mortgages, refinances, and equipment loans. See all AFF loan options .

Setting Financial Goals

Forecasting expenses is critical when starting a farming operation. List out the main buckets of expenses (inputs, machinery, labor, land, interest, and consulting services). Where possible, get pricing quotes to formalize your expenses as much as possible for what you would like to grow.

After you’ve forecasted expenses, you can set a goal for how much profit, or margin, you intend to make. Use futures sales prices to project what you can sell your crop for. The difference between your sales price and your expenses will become your profit. Ensure that this income matches your expectations and can cover any personal expenses you hope the money will be used for.

While a one-year operating plan is critical to get started, remember that farming is a long-term pursuit. Depending on how many upfront expenses you need to make, it may take multiple farming seasons to turn a significant profit. 

Conducting Market Research

Before you can develop a solid business plan for a farm, it is essential to conduct detailed market research. Conduct an analysis of the target market, including its size, growth potential, and trends. Identify the target customers, their needs, preferences, and buying behavior. This assessment will allow you to be an expert on the market and differentiate you from the rest of the competition. 

Writing a Farming Business Plan

Now that we have covered the key elements of a farming business plan, let’s dive into the process of writing one.

Creating a Timeline for Implementation

This timeline can be as specific to your needs as possible. You want to make sure that every necessary box is checked before launching your farming operation. This is a suggested timeline for implementing your plan, but coordinate as you see fit and adapt to things that may pop up:

Preparation: 1-6 Months 

  • Complete all sections of the farming business plan, including market analysis, financial projections, and operational strategies.
  • Seek funding options, such as loans, grants, or investors, and secure the necessary financing for your farming venture.
  • Identify suitable land for your farm and negotiate the purchase or lease agreement.
  • Conduct necessary soil testing and prepare the land for farming activities.
  • Source and purchase farming equipment, machinery, and inputs (seeds, fertilizers, livestock, etc.) required for your chosen agricultural activities.
  • Hire key personnel, such as farm managers, laborers, and administrative staff, as per your business plan’s organizational structure.
  • Establish relationships with suppliers and vendors to ensure a steady supply of inputs.

Operations: 6-12 Months

  • Initiate planting or livestock management based on the farming plan.
  • Implement appropriate cultivation techniques, crop rotation, or livestock management practices.
  • Monitor and adjust farming operations to optimize production.
  • Develop marketing strategies to promote farm products to target customers.
  • Implement sales channels, such as direct sales, farmers’ markets, online platforms, or partnerships with retailers or small restaurants.

Below is a helpful template from to get you started. Download your farming business plan template here.

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Cornell CALS - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

12: Business Plans

What is a business plan.

A business plan is a document that helps you to organize and succinctly summarize the vision you have for your business. The plan contains the operational and financial objectives of a business, the detailed plans and budgets showing how the objectives are to be realized.

A good business plan will contain the following:

  • Your business vision, mission statement, key values, and goals
  • Description of the product(s) you intend to produce
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats the business may experience are described
  • Production plans
  • Marketing plans
  • Estimated start-up costs
  • Information on your legal structure and management team
  • Current financial statements or projected financial statements.
  • Resume or brief explanation of your background and relevant experience
  • Less than 10 total pages so that people actually read it

Helpful Publications for Writing a Business Plan

General Business Resource Publications:

  • Starting an Ag-Business? A Pre-Planning Guide
  • Business Transfer Guide: Junior Generation
  • Producing a Business Plan for Value-Added Agriculture
  • Business Planning for the Agriculture Sector: A Guide to Business Plan Development for Start-up to Mid-size Operations pdf
  • Building a Sustainable Business (Sustainable Agricultural Research Education (SARE)Publications) 280 pages of education and practical exercises to guide you through the financial, management, and interpersonal skills needed to start a successful farm business. Order hard copy for $17 or download PDF online for free.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Publications for Specific Commodities:

  • Landscape Business Planning Guide
  • Writing a Business Plan: A Guide for Small Premium Wineries
  • Writing a Business Plan: An Example for a Small Premium Winery

Getting Help Writing a Business Plan

Cornell Cooperative ExtensionThe type of programming offered in each county is unique so contact your county extension office to see if they have a farm management or small business development educator. Often these educators offer business plan workshops and are willing to advise, review, or assist in writing your plan. Additional economic data and marketing tools can be found at the following website:
Cornell Small Farms Program Online Course BF 202: Business Planning The Cornell Small Farms Program offers 20+ online courses every year on many topics related to the production and business sides of farming. Most are taught by Cornell Cooperative Extension educators. BF 202 is a 6-week course that will guide you through the process of writing your business plan, with weekly live webinars and feedback on your plan from an experienced farmer.
New York State Small Business Development CenterA network of 23 regional centers delivering business counseling and training free of charge to New Yorkers who want to start a business or improve the performance of an existing business.
NY FarmNetNew York FarmNet has business plan writing publications (listed earlier in this fact sheet) in addition to farm counselors throughout the state who offer free and confidential help on any topic of concern, including: finances, farm changes, farm transfer, natural disaster, personal stress, family communication, and marital conflict.
Empire State Development’s Entrepreneurial Assistance ProgramProgramPart of New York State’s economic development agency, they have 9 centers across the state to provide specialized help to women, minority group members and persons with disabilities who are starting or operating an early stage business.1-800-STATE NY
SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business”SCORE is a nonprofit organization offering free business advice and training by experienced volunteers. Check the website for chapters in your area.
Federal Small Business AdministrationFederal agency with offices throughout the state providing counseling services and loan guarantees. They have a special emphasis area to work with women, minorities, veterans, and businesses involved in international trade.
AgPlanAgPlan is powerful website developed by the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota to help rural businesses develop a business plan.
USDA New Farmers WebsiteUSDA’s New Farmers Website provides a portal to various sites providing technical assistance for planning a business.

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11 Steps to a Whole-Farm Plan

A broad-based operating plan helps your family stay on course.

It's no insurance against setbacks, but having a whole-farm plan in place can help your family stay on course when difficulties unfold.

"It's often tough to communicate as a family because you tend to focus so much on the day-to-day business operations of producing a commodity," says David Marrison, Ohio State University agriculture-natural resources Extension educator.

"Having a whole-farm business plan in place helps you stay true to your vision and the mission of the operation," he says. "It helps you stay on course and not get lost in the weeds of not having a plan, especially when you're facing big stressors like crop failures or tractor engines going down."

A whole-farm plan encompasses the breadth and width of your farm family's business. "You might say it gives a perspective of the operation from a distance of 30,000 feet, as opposed to a view from 10 feet away," says Marrison.

A whole-farm plan addresses a broad spectrum of components, such as family values and goals, a business analysis and business goals, a business plan, retirement plan, transition plan, estate plan, and investment plan.

"The parts of the whole-farm plan are like spokes in a wheel. All need to work together in harmony for the long-term success of the operation, and all play a role in keeping it operating into the future," he says.

The writing of a broad-based plan begins, of course, with the holding of family business meetings. Before the actual writing of the plan begins, the topics of the meetings might facilitate a process of taking stock of the family, individual assets and goals, and resources and goals of the business.

Marrison suggests taking the following 11 steps to write a whole-farm plan.

1. Take stock of the family.

Look at the history of your family and its farm, and identify family values and family goals.

"It is valuable for the business to begin the planning process by reflecting on family and farm history," he says. "Valuable lessons can be learned by all the generations involved by examining past successes and disappointments. The underlying values and goals of the family unit should also be determined. While these values and goals often remain unspoken, they have a large impact on how family members treat each other and employees, and how they make business decisions."

2. Assess individuals' goals, strengths, and also weaknesses.

"Each member of the farm business should conduct a self-assessment of his or her communication, financial, production, marketing, and management skills," says Marrison. "This is particularly important when bringing generations back to the farm."

This process helps your family determine the areas of responsibility to be allocated to each person. A lack of skill or experience in certain areas could suggest outsourcing some jobs. Or, it could suggest a need for additional education or training.

"You should always be looking at ways to help family members and employees improve their skills and strengths," says Marrison.

3. Analyze the business and set business goals.

A business analysis takes stock of available land, labor, capital, management resources, profitability, business structure, operating procedures, and employee management.

"After taking a snapshot of where the farm business is currently, the family business team should develop key goals for the future," says Marrison. "It is important that each individual share his or her individual goals and skill-set assessments with the other members of the business during this process. Members can then work together to determine the responsibilities of each team member and to develop goals."

4. Write a mission statement.

"A mission statement is a short statement describing the fundamental reason for the business to exist," he says. "It identifies the underlying values that are going to push your family and the business forward."

5. Write a business plan.

The previous steps comprise an internal analysis that can be used to develop plans encompassing the diverse areas of your farm's operation.

"A business plan helps your family develop a plan of action for production and operation practices," says Marrison. "It also helps develop plans for the financial, marketing, personnel, and risk-management sectors of the business."

This analysis could also examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in each of these areas.

6. Plan for retirement.

This plan identifies retirees' needs and the role the farm plays in meeting these. "Retirement plans should be established early for all members of the business," says Marrison. "The profitability of your farm should be such that a family member can retire and not adversely affect the financial position of the business."

7. Plan a transition strategy.

This describes how your farm will be transferred to the next generation. It encompasses both the transfer of assets and the transfer of managerial control. It describes how the retiring generation will transfer their knowledge to the younger generation, and how and when managerial responsibilities will be transferred.

8. Make an estate plan.

"Farm estate planning determines how your farm's assets will be distributed upon the death of the principal operators," he says.

9. Outline an investment plan.

Investments vary widely by family and farm, typically comprising land, machinery, and livestock. Others have off-farm investments also. Determine how these investments affect future needs.

10. Set goals in all areas.

"Setting goals establishes a plan of action for each area of business activity," says Marrison. "Set measurable goals that are short, mid, and long term. At monthly family meetings, you can look back at the goals you set in each major area of planning. Reviewing goals keeps them in focus, even though you might not be able to act on them until a future date."

11. Plan for the unexpected.

In each planning area, work into the plan a what-if scenario. "Look at what unexpected things could happen," he says. "Having conversations about those what-if circumstances no one wants to think about could help you stay on target and not get stressed when bad things happen."

In sum, says Marrison, "By implementing a whole-farm approach to business planning, your farm family can be ready to face the future with confidence."

David Marrison | 440/576-9008 [email protected]

Horizon Farm Credit

How to write a farm business plan.

How to Write a Farm Business Plan

Getting a loan for your agricultural business — no matter the size or scope — means asking the lender to have faith in your ability to manage a full-fledged operation and your finances in a healthy way. The best way to prove that is by coming prepared with a farm business plan proposal.

No pressure, right? While it may seem daunting and scary, we’ve broken down the steps to writing the perfect business plan below. Read on to learn more and check out the end of this guide for additional resources to help you craft a top-notch business plan.

Creating a Farm Business Plan

You can set yourself up for success — both in business and with your lender — by having a detailed business plan for your farming operation. It doesn't need to be pretty, but you do have to prove that you're willing to put the time and effort into creating a well thought out course of action for your operation.

Are you already operating but don't have a plan? That's okay! It's never too late to put extra thought into how your operation will continue to fulfill your livelihood.

What to Include in your Agricultural Business Plan

Whether you're a new farmer looking for a loan , or a seasoned grower that needs funding for a new agribusiness , there are a few things that you want to make sure you include in your agricultural business plan.

Title/ Cover Page

Keep it simple on the cover page. The most important information here is accurate contact information so your lender can get in touch with you easily. Include your mailing address, phone, email, and fax if you have it.

Business Overview

Although it will be the first page of your farm plan, this will be the last section that you write, since it acts as a summary of all your key points in your plan. Remember that this is the first section that your lender will read , so they’ll expect to see all of the highlights that make approving this loan a good financial decision for both you and the lending organization. Include points about expansion plans, market opportunities, financial trends and projections in a short and easy to read summary. Treat this section as if you're telling a stranger about your operation and you want to give them an overview of what you do and what sets you apart from other businesses in your industry.

What are your key business objectives? In this part of your farming business plan, you'll want to describe your products and services your business will offer. 

Start by describing how your business will operate and include what makes your business unique. Provide details regarding the size of the operation, location, and note any expansion plans.     

Who is your target audience? Who will benefit from your products or services produced from your farm business?   

Think about the desire and drive behind why you want to pursue this business venture. It is common to connect your business why with your mission statement.  

If applying for a loan:

If you’re starting a new operation, clearly state how much money you are applying for, how you plan to use it and how it will make your business more profitable, thereby ensuring repayment. 

Creating your own farm business plan will take time and effort. As you complete sections, send them to partners or colleagues to review as you go along. If you have any questions on farm business plan examples or more specifically what lenders are looking for, give us a call. 

Business Management and Organization

Business history:.

How long have you been in operation? Are you starting from scratch or did the business have previous owners?

Strengths and Weaknesses:

Describe the strengths and weaknesses of your business.

Implementation Timeline:

What is your plan of action? What specific tasks need to be completed in order to reach your business goals?   

Goals are often broken into two categories — short term and long term. Short term goals are focused on actions likely to be achieved in 1-3 years, and long term goals are likely accomplished in 3-10 years, or beyond.  

Risk Management:

What risk management practices do you have in place? Think about your business contingency plan, insurance coverage , regulatory requirements, and your market and production diversification.   

For some people, this can be the most fun or the most challenging part of creating your small farm business plan. Before thinking about your marketing tactics, think about the data you need to make informed business decisions .  

Market Share:

Researching your target market is key to understanding what opportunities are available in the marketplace. Is there current market share to gain? How will you remain competitive as a farm business? Who are your biggest competitors in the marketplace? Do you anticipate any obstacles?    

How will your farm business generate farm income? Think about how your product will be sold and priced? What is your projected or estimated income? How are you going to gain commitments and contracts to sell your products? 

What marketing strategy will your business use to reach your business goals? As a small business, will you utilize tools like social media, email marketing, and/or ecommerce to maximize your marketing efforts to connect with your target audience? Check out our blog on how to create a marketing plan for your farm and download a free template!

Arguably, the most important part of your agricultural business plan is how you will finance your operation. In this section, make sure to take time to complete your balance sheet. The balance sheet will identify your cash-basis income trend, breakeven analysis, and sensitivity analysis. This statement is a summary of what you own vs. what you owe. 

The income and expenses statement shows your business’ profit and loss over a period of time, determined by taking all the revenue and subtracting all expenses. This will show the profitability of your operation. 

Business Advisors

Business advisors are a group of professionals who serve as subject matter experts to enhance productivity, business, and on-farm profitability, while offering technical insight for your farm operations. Surrounding yourself with people who know how to support your farming venture will help to support and find your long-term business success. You will want to organize your team that might consist of an attorney, accountant, lender, insurance provider, and consultants in the last section of the business plan.  Did you know Farm Credit offers services for Accounting, Records, Payroll and Taxes, Appraisal, Business Consulting, Farm Succession Planning, and more? Give us a call at 888.339.3334 or view our full list of services here .

Congratulations! You’ve made it through each section of how to write your business plan! If you’re interested in more coaching on your business plan, check out the resources below or give us a call to connect with a local lender — we're happy to help. 

Additional Resources to Help You Write Your Farm Business Plan

Request your Business Plan Template and replay of our How to Write a Business Plan webinar here.

Click here to request a mentor with SCORE Small Business Resources.

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Watch CBS News

Project 2025 would overhaul the U.S. tax system. Here's how it could impact you.

By Aimee Picchi

Edited By Anne Marie Lee

Updated on: July 12, 2024 / 1:42 PM EDT / CBS News

Project 2025, a 900-page blueprint for the next Republican president, is gaining attention for its proposals to overhaul the federal government. Among those changes: a major restructuring of the U.S. tax code. 

President Biden and Democrats have been citing Project 2025 in recent weeks as they seek to highlight what could be in store if former President Donald Trump wins at the polls in November and retakes the White House in January.  Many of the blueprint's proposals touch on economic matters that could impact millions of Americans, as well as social issues such as abortion and diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, topics. 

Project 2025 , overseen by the conservative Heritage Foundation, is spearheaded by two ex-Trump administration officials: project director Paul Dans, who was chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management, and Spencer Chretien, former special assistant to Trump who is now the project's associate director.

Trump: "I know nothing about Project 2025"

For his part, Trump has distanced himself from the blueprint, writing on Truth Social early Thursday that he isn't familiar with the plan. His campaign has proposed its own goals through " Agenda 47 ," which tends to focus on social and political issues such as homelessness and immigration rather than taxes.

"I know nothing about Project 2025. I have not seen it, have no idea who is in charge of it, and, unlike our very well received Republican Platform, had nothing to do with it," Trump wrote  Thursday.

His pushback comes after Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts opined in a podcast interview that the U.S. is "in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be." 

According to Project 2025's website, its goal is to have "a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on day one of the next conservative administration."

A shift to two brackets

The tax proposals of Project 2025, if enacted, would likely affect every adult in the U.S. by tossing out the nation's long-standing system of multiple tax brackets, which is designed to help lower-income Americans pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes compared with middle- or high-income workers. 

Currently, there are seven tax brackets — 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37% — with each based on income thresholds. For instance, a married couple pays 10% in federal income tax on their first $23,200 of income, and then 12% on earnings from $23,201 to $94,300, and so on. Married couples need to earn over $487,450 this year to hit the top tax rate of 37%.

Project 2025 argues that the current tax system is too complicated and expensive for taxpayers to navigate. To remedy those problems, it proposes just two tax rates: a 15% flat tax for people earning up to about $168,000, and a 30% income tax for people earning above that, according to the document . It also proposes eliminating "most deductions, credits and exclusions," although the blueprint doesn't specify which ones would go and which would stay.

"The federal income tax system is progressive, and people who make more money pay a higher marginal tax rate than people who make less money," Brendan Duke, senior director for economic policy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, told CBS MoneyWatch. "Conservatives look at that, and they feel that that's unfair to the wealthy to ask them to pay a greater share of their income in taxes than lower income families."

The Project 2025 proposal "is a dramatic reform of how we fund our government, where we ask the wealthy to pitch in more than lower income families," he said. "This shifts taxes from the wealthy to the middle class, full stop."

Project 2025 didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

In a statement, the Heritage Foundation said it will ultimately be up to the next conservative president do decide which recommendations to implement, adding "As we've been saying for more than two years now, Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign." 

Project 2025's tax rates 

Millions of low- and middle-class households would likely face significantly higher taxes under the Project 2025's proposals.

He estimated that a middle-class family with two children and an annual income of $100,000 would pay $2,600 in additional federal income tax if they faced a 15% flat tax on their income due to the loss of the 10% and 12% tax brackets. If the Child Tax Credit were also eliminated, they would pay an additional $6,600 compared with today's tax system, Duke said. 

By comparison, a married couple with two children and earnings of $5 million a year would enjoy a $325,000 tax cut, he estimated. 

"That 15% bracket is a very big deal in terms of raising taxes on middle-class families," Duke said. 

Millions of U.S. households earning less than $168,000 would likely face higher taxes with a 15% rate. Currently, the bottom half of American taxpayers, who earn less than $46,000 a year, pay an effective tax rate of 3.3%  — which reflects their income taxes after deductions, tax credits and other benefits. 

Among other tax and economic changes proposed by Project 2025: 

  • Cutting the corporate tax rate to 18% from its current 21%, which was enacted in 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Prior to the TCJA, the corporate tax rate stood at 35%.
  • Reducing the capital gains tax to 15%. Currently, high-income earners pay a tax of 20% on their capital gains.
  • Eliminating credits for green energy projects created by the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • Considering the introduction of a U.S. consumption tax, such as a national sales tax. 
  • Eliminating the Federal Reserve's mandate to maintain full employment in the labor market.

To be sure, overhauling the tax system would require lawmakers to approve changes to the tax code, which could be difficult if either the House or Senate is controlled by the opposing party. For instance, Trump was able to get his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by a Republican-led Congress, even though no Democrats voted in support of the measure. 

What does Trump say about taxes?

Trump hasn't yet proposed any concrete tax plans, but analysts expect that he would seek to extend the tax cuts enacted through the TCJA if he is reelected. Currently, many of the provisions of the TCJA, including lower tax brackets, are set to expire at the end of 2025. 

One likely scenario if Trump is reelected is that Republican lawmakers would extend the TJCA's tax cuts, while seeking to fund the reduction in tax revenue by repealing some of the clean energy and climate-related provisions in the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act, according to an April report from Oxford Economics. Lawmakers could also seek to cut spending on social benefits to offset the tax cuts, the research firm added.

Trump has suggested a proposal to create a 10% tariff for all imports and a 60% tariff for Chinese imports that could raise enough money to eliminate the federal income tax. 

Tax experts also say the math doesn't work out because money raised from new tariffs would fall far short of replacing the more than $2 trillion in individual income taxes collected by the IRS each year. Consumers are also likely to pay more in higher costs for imported consumer goods and services with tariffs tacked onto them, experts note.

"A tariff is a consumption tax, and there is a throughline between [Project 2025's] tax reform and what Trump has talked about, getting rid of taxes in favor of a consumption tax," Duke noted. 

  • Donald Trump

Aimee Picchi is the associate managing editor for CBS MoneyWatch, where she covers business and personal finance. She previously worked at Bloomberg News and has written for national news outlets including USA Today and Consumer Reports.

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Idle ethanol plant in Michigan’s top corn-producing area gets new ownership

  • Updated: Jul. 15, 2024, 8:08 p.m.
  • | Published: Jul. 15, 2024, 12:23 p.m.

Lenawee County ethanol and grain storage facility

The former Valero grain storage and processing facility acquired by ZFS Riga, LLC, an affiliate of Zeeland Farm Services, Inc., in July 2024 is located in Riga Township, outside Blissfield, Mich. The ethanol plant has sat idle for several years, but ZFS Riga is optimistic it can create a business plan to restart corn processing. Provided by ZFS Riga, LLC

LENAWEE COUNTY, MI - In Michigan’s top corn-producing county, an ethanol plant that once processed 19 million bushels a year into fuel and other products hasn’t produced a drop in years. That could change under new ownership.

In July, ZFS Riga, LLC, an affiliate of Michigan agribusiness Zeeland Farm Services, Inc., purchased the Riga grain storage and processing facility in Riga Township, according to a company spokesperson.

The company did not disclose the terms of the deal to acquire the facility from Valero Energy Corp.

The plant, which first opened in 2007 , sits outside Blissfield in Lenawee County, about an hour south of Ann Arbor and near the Ohio border. Valero did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the sale.

ZFS Riga has begun rehabilitating grain receiving, storage and shipping areas at the 137-acre facility, according to company spokesperson Gary Brower.

“We are excited about the future potential at the Riga facility. Grain receiving and storage are a start. We are also optimistic that a competitive business plan can be put together on corn processing,” he said in a statement.

The plant can store about 2.3 million bushels of grain, and had an ethanol production capacity of 55 million gallons per year, according to a Valero factsheet.

The processing portion of the facility, which made ethanol, distiller’s grain and corn oil, hasn’t operated for about five years and is “obsolete” without rehabilitation, according to Brower.

“Currently, the plant is not competitive in the industry,” he said.

ZFS Riga is initially hiring four to eight employees but could employ up to 45 people if it does restart corn processing, the spokesperson added.

Ethanol production involves fermenting sugars in the starches of grains like corn and the biofuel is commonly blended into commercially available gasoline.

Affiliates of Zeeland Farm Services, based in Zeeland , have a history to taking on similar acquisitions, previously scooping up ethanol plants in Pennsylvania and Nebraska . Affiliate ZFS Ithaca, LLC also took over a 435-acre site in Gratiot County abandoned by another developer and began soy processing operations in 2020.

Other ZFS affiliates offer trucking services specializing in agricultural commodities.

Facilities producing biofuels like ethanol are concentrated in midwestern agricultural states, but only a handful operate in Michigan, according to a federal database.

A recent report from a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group took aim at the industry for emitting toxic air pollution as part of its production process, despite its image as a purveyor of a green alternative to fossil fuels. A major ethanol industry group refuted the report.

As the Riga facility lay dormant, an agricultural economic development advisory committee recommended Lenawee County leaders use COVID relief dollars to aid reopening the plant, arguing it could increase the local tax base, offer more municipal revenue and support farmers, The Adrian Daily Telegram reported in 2022.

Lenawee County leads Michigan with 18.7 million bushels of corn production, according to 2023 estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We are excited about the potential benefits this acquisition has for the farming community and the Riga/Blissfield community,” Brower said.

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The $25 Trillion System of Retirement Savings Needs Fixing

Fifty years after Congress passed a landmark retirement law, 401(k) and I.R.A. accounts enrich mostly higher-income households. Here are five ways they can be improved.

An illustration showing people sitting on or trying to climb a pink piggy bank with fanciful things in their hands or swirling around them.

By Mark Miller

Few Americans today know much about Studebaker or Packard automobiles. Classic car aficionados recall their sleek, innovative designs , but the brands are also a reminder of another bygone era: the traditional defined benefit pension.

Studebaker and Packard merged in 1954 and later went out of business. Their pension plans were terminated, leaving thousands of workers without their expected benefits. That, along with other pension plan failures, prompted efforts to make retirement savings safer, culminating in federal legislation that has shaped much of the current retirement benefit landscape.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, which was signed into law in 1974 by President Gerald R. Ford, marks its 50th anniversary this year.

The law protected private sector pensions by imposing funding requirements, rules for employee eligibility and fiduciary standards requiring plan sponsors to act solely in the interest of its participants. It also created the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a federally sponsored insurance fund that backstops failing pension plans.

But those tighter requirements and costs led many employers to stop offering traditional pensions and to the rise of 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts and their dominance in the private sector today.

Pensions never covered all U.S. private sector workers — 62 percent were covered in 1983 compared with a mere 18 percent in 2022, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College . But workers who had them benefited from automatic participation, professional investment management and guaranteed lifetime income streams.

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Archive Alert

The new Individual Assistance updates only apply to disasters declared on or after March 22, 2024. Read about the updates.

How to Apply for FEMA Assistance in Texas After Hurricane Beryl

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AUSTIN –  Texas homeowners and renters in 15 counties  who had uninsured damage or losses caused by Hurricane Beryl may be eligible for FEMA disaster assistance.

FEMA may be able to help with serious needs, displacement, temporary lodging, basic home repair costs, personal property loss or other disaster-caused needs. Financial assistance is available to eligible homeowners and renters in Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto, Walker and Wharton counties.

Texans who applied for FEMA assistance after the April 26-June 5 storms and flooding, and who had additional damage or losses from Hurricane Beryl, can make a separate application for Hurricane Beryl assistance.

FEMA’s disaster assistance offers new benefits that provide flexible funding directly to survivors. In addition, a simplified process and expanded eligibility allows Texans access to a wider range of assistance and immediate funds for serious needs.

New Benefits Available

How to Apply to FEMA

Homeowners and renters can apply in several ways:

  • Serious Needs Assistance:  A one-time $750 payment per household to help pay for essential items, including water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, breastfeeding supplies, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items and fuel for transportation.
  • Displacement Assistance:  Money to help with immediate housing needs if you cannot return to your home because of the disaster. The money can be used to stay in a hotel, with family and friends or for other options while you look for temporary housing.
  • Go online to .
  • Download the FEMA App for mobile devices.
  • Call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. CT. Help is available in most languages. If you use a relay service, such as video relay (VRS), captioned telephone or other service, give FEMA your number for that service.
  • Visit a Disaster Recovery Center. For locations, visit . These centers can help with both Hurricane Beryl and the April 26-June 5 storms and flooding.

What You’ll Need When You Apply

  • A current phone number where you can be contacted
  • Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying
  • Your Social Security number
  • A general list of damage and losses
  • Banking information if you choose direct deposit
  • If insured, the policy number or the agent and/or the company name

Additional Assistance

  • Streamlined application process so people can apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and FEMA at the same.
  • Support for underinsured people to help cover some home repair costs that insurance companies won’t pay for but which the homeowner can’t afford.
  • Help for self-employed people to replace disaster-damaged tools and equipment.
  • Expanded help to make homes safer after a disaster.
  • Help making a home more accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Streamlined process for people who need to extend temporary housing assistance.
  • Simplified process for appeal of FEMA’s decision, eliminating the need for a signed letter.
  • Help for people who need to repair or replace a disaster-damaged computer.

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Connecticut News | CT farms generate tons of manure each year…

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Connecticut news | four dead after fiery crash in ct, connecticut news, subscriber only, connecticut news | ct farms generate tons of manure each year (really). here’s what happens to some of it..

new farm business plan

Under the Clean Water Act, those farms need a permit to discharge effluents “into the Waters of the State of Connecticut,” and they must be recertified every five years.

But that doesn’t mean they are dumping any cow and chicken poop into the state’s rivers and streams, said Audra Dickson, director of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ’s Water Permitting and Enforcement Division.

“It’s not like a pipe that discharges out to a creek or to a stream like a wastewater-treatment plant or an industrial discharge,” Dickson said.

The permit is actually intended for extreme events, such as major rainstorms, which cause the farm’s manure-containment system to overflow. Each farm must have what is called a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan. For example, the manure that is collected from a dairy barn might be brought to a lagoon.

 And in that plan, it details how they’re going to manage the manure that’s generated from their confined animal feeding operation. 

“Over time, that manure is then land-applied to farm fields,” Dickson said. “And so what we’re looking for in a plan is that they’re managing those nutrients appropriately, which means it’s in an agronomic way.”

That may be by sprinklers or spread by trucks or injected into the roots of crops, she said.

Farms also may give or sell the manure to another company or to the public.

For example,  Hillandale Farms Conn in Colchester, owned by a Gettysburg, Pa., farming operation , houses more than 500,000 chickens in its egg hatchery and generates more than 5,000 tons of manure annually, according to its draft public notice. Its manure is “exported from the farm.”

“All manure is handled on a belted manure system that transfers manure on a daily basis to a roofed manure loading area, where it is exported daily. If needed 1 day’s manure production can be stacked in the roofed loading area,” the notice explains. “All manure and finished mortality compost is exported off site to approximately 134 individual operations located in Connecticut and surrounding states.

“There is no cropland or pastureland associated with this operation. Therefore, there are no manure or fertilizer application associated with this operation,” it says. The document carefully lists information about all planned manure exports and to whom or where the exports are expected to go, including to other farms. it does not say how much any amount of manure costs.

Ed Hoffman, vice president of Hillandale , said in testimony submitted to the General Assembly in 2023 that the farm has 350 full‐time employees, haul more 100 trailer eggs of eggs a week, hauls over 100 trailer loads of feed a week, and hauls over 100 trailer loads of manure a week. “We are part of a company that operates in 5 states making us the 4th largest egg producer in the country,” he said.

Its draft plan approval shows it would be valid through 2027.

In another example,  Hytone Farm in Coventry houses 260 Holstein cows on two farmsteads and generates 23.9 million gallons of manure a year, according to its draft public notice. “The farm consists of 318.09 acres of corn silage with cover crop (312.40 spreadable acres) and 448.24 acres of grass hay (437.15 spreadable acres). This provides a total of 766.33 acres of cropland (749.55 spreadable acres) for the land application of manure,” the draft public notice says.

“Manure generated is mixed with no more than 9,000 gallons per day of source separated organic material,” the notice states. “Farmstead 1 has two high flow leachate settling ponds designed to infiltrate runoff and 2 stormwater runoff settling ponds.”

The notice noted that:

  • Manure from the majority of the herd is handled as a liquid which is stored in an existing 1 million gallon earthen manure storage lagoon
  • Some manure is also handled as a solid bedded pack from the Calf Barn, Fresh Barn, Old Barn and Silver Barn which is cleaned from the barns and stacked south of the bunker silos until it can be land applied.”

The farm also intends to Install an anaerobic methane digester system and “combustion of methane gas through the generator will help manage odor to allow for additional spreading acres in the populated areas, and improve greenhouse gas capture from the manure system,” the notice notes.

The draft notices also outline plans and detailed procedures for soil and water testing in the area of the farms. The tests are sent to outside laboratories. Hytone’s draft approval does not yet have an expiration date.

“The permit is really generated for when they’re managing it onsite, and there is a potential that if they mismanage it, then it might enter waters of the state,” Dickson said, speaking in general and not about any specific farm or operation.

“The permit covers them on an emergency instance, should there be a catastrophic precipitation event, should they do something that violates the permit terms and conditions, they’re operating outside of their nutrient-management plan, and there’s a discharge, then DEEP would step in and assess the facility for compliance and enforcement,” she said.

The state is working with the 10 largest farms now, then will move on to medium-sized farms, of which there are about 30, Dickson said.

Efforts to reach the owners of Hillandale and Hytone farms were unsuccessful.

Ed Stannard can be reached at [email protected] .

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